Being a serious track athlete 52 weeks a year is very difficult. When you go hard from the start of indoor track in January to the end of outdoor track in June, taking three to four weeks off for rest and regeneration is crucial. Mentally and physically, you’ve just endured six months of stress—pushing yourself hard through two competitive seasons. Your body and mind need time to recover, so you can build yourself back up and improve on any weaknesses before next season.
During the first couple of weeks, go back to the real world and become a complete non-athlete. I mean that in a positive way. Don’t go eat a bunch of junk food or drink and party. Just take some time to put the sport behind you—no weights, no running, no drills, none of it. If you want to go shoot hoops, that’s fine. But pretty much shut it down, turn it off, put your shoes away and just leave it alone.
In the two weeks after that, start bringing back some elements of training. Get it going again, but with no stress or psychological pressure. Just get the ball rolling. We call this the reorientation period. It doesn’t matter what you accomplish in those two weeks; just use the time to get accustomed to training again. Get your time scheduled out; get your routine down; and don’t worry about anything else. It might be a really good two weeks; it might not.
— Bob Braman is head coach of the 2006 NCAA National Champion Florida State men’s track and field team.